Peter begins to understand that the gospel is for Gentiles as well as Jews
- Peter often does things in threes (v 16)!
- People heard the message, received the Holy Spirit and then were baptised (vv 44-48). Can this tell us anything about the nature of proclamation, salvation and baptism?
- Why were the Jewish believers so surprised that Gentiles were being saved?
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Going Deeper from 'Words of Life'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a much-loved Christian, teacher and writer, was martyred by the Gestapo near the end of the Second World War. He wrote about all believers being part of a unique community, connected as brothers and sisters because of Jesus: ‘This fact that we are brethren only through Jesus Christ is of immeasurable significance… Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.’
Cornelius was a soldier and a Gentile, yet also a God-fearing man. However, Jews did not mix with non-Jews. But in this passage of Scripture we are presented with a whole new way of thinking for the Jewish people.
One day Cornelius had a vision in which an angel told him to send for Peter. Around the same time, Peter also had a vision – a vision of inclusiveness. Animals, reptiles and birds appeared before him on a sheet. He is told to eat, yet they are all unclean according to Jewish law. But God told Peter that all things he has created are clean .
Inclusiveness – it concerns people , making everyone feel welcomed, accepted. Part of the family of God; brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what Christian community is all about. We don’t always do this well.
Sometimes we have an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mindset, making people feel excluded. When Peter went to Cornelius, telling him – and his entire household – about Jesus, the Holy Spirit made himself known in a beautiful way:
…the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message (v 44).
Having received the Spirit, the Gentiles were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Included! Let’s make sure we do everything we can to welcome and include all people into the community of believers.
Lord, help me to always think of others in practical ways by including them in the various things I do. It will bless them, bless me – and I know it will certainly bless you, my Saviour!
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